Remeha boilers keep the heat on at the Old Bailey

Public Sector Tue, Aug 8, 2017 1:27 PM

The Central Criminal Court for England and Wales, also known as the Old Bailey, has installed high-efficiency, low NOx Remeha boilers as part of a major refurbishment scheme.

The Central Criminal Court has undertaken a major ten-year £43 million modernisation plan to refurbish the building and its services. A key part of the refurbishment has been the replacement of its giant 1967 11MW of Netherton oil-fired steam boilers with high-efficiency Remeha Gas 610 Eco Pro gas condensing boilers.

Arguably the most famous criminal court in the world since its reconstruction in 1907, today the Central Criminal Court is managed by the City of London Corporation. For the last 50 years, the building, which houses 18 courts and 52 cells over three floors, has relied on four ornate steam boilers for its heating and air-conditioning.

The age of the boilers and the growing difficulty in sourcing spare parts made it essential to refurbish the heating service. The City of London Corporation’s prime concerns were twofold: to achieve more sustainable operation through improved energy performance and to reduce building emissions in line with its strategy for improved air quality within the Square Mile.

A consortium of Interserve Engineering Services, lead designers AECOM, project managers WSP, HOK architects and cost consultants Gleeds won the ten-year contract.

AECOM, working with Interserve, recommended replacing the four steam boilers with seven Remeha Gas 610 Eco Pro boilers in a four-phase installation programme to meet the heating requirements.

Richard Morgan, Associate Director at AECOM, explained: “The City of London Corporation was keen to improve the efficiency and reliability of the heating service to increase comfort within the building and lower running costs. Reducing harmful emissions was a priority, in keeping with the City of London Corporation’s wider environmental commitment to reduce air pollution. The Remeha boilers ticked all boxes, combining exceptional high efficiencies with such low NOx emissions that they easily comply with the Clean Air Act standards.”

The Central Criminal Court handles around 1,500 of Britain’s most serious criminal cases a year with each court holding two sittings daily. Planning the full works programme was a lengthy process as the Central Criminal Court must remain available for court sittings throughout the refurbishment scheme.

Richard continued: “To avoid disrupting trials, the entire refurbishment project has had to be planned as a live changeover. This means that only two courts are out of action for three months at a time. It’s been a real feat of logistic engineering.”

The decision was taken to install the new boilers in the original 1907 coal boiler room in a parallel installation to the steam boilers in the second plant room. Inside the cavernous old plant room, with its 6-metre ceilings below street level, the original coal hatch still remains as a reminder of century-old boiler technology. History is everywhere, with a metal ladder leading down to a tributary of the lost River Fleet running beneath the building and on to the Thames.

Today, the plant room contains the first three Gas 610 Eco Pro boilers, installed in a modular arrangement. The flexible boiler configuration improves the reliability and security of the heating, providing a more comfortable environment. At the same time, it makes full use of the boilers’ modulating feature for more accurate matching of heat demand – increasing overall system efficiency and reducing energy waste.

“Installing the new Remeha boilers in the original plant room has helped us to maintain the heating service throughout the refurbishment,” said Richard. “From an engineering perspective, the two plant rooms also provide a unique showcase of the evolution of boiler technology across half a century!”

Refurbishing a Grade II-listed building like the Old Bailey required careful planning to avoid any alterations to its fabric. Here again the design of the Remeha boilers proved helpful.

“The Remeha 610 Eco Pros are not only compact but they can be dismantled into parts,” added Richard. “This was a real benefit as it made access to the basement plant room much quicker and easier. Once they were inside the plant room, it was simply a matter of reassembling and positioning them.”

Due to the age of the heating system, AECOM recommended water treatment to ensure improved water quality. Plate heat exchangers were also fitted to achieve hydraulic separation, prevent any fouling and maintain optimum operation of the boilers.

With three of the seven Remeha boilers connected and serving the Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW) radiator system throughout the building, Phase One of the services upgrade is now complete. For AECOM the next challenge is to upgrade the air conditioning with a new air handling plant. The four additional Gas 610 Eco Pro boilers will be installed in the next few years to complete the heating refurbishment.

The entire project, which also involves restructuring the entrance to maximise its accessibility, is expected to be completed in 2023.

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